A pastoral letter from Rev Francis M’Itiiri
It is humbling to be writing the minister’s letter for January as a new member of the Circuit Team. In my opinion we might all have faced different experiences during the year. Some may be coming to terms with what January presents itself with. Perhaps bills of Christmas festivities waiting to be dealt with. While others may be dealing with resolutions that have already been broken while the year is still young. In the midst of all this God has a way of inspiring us especially when we feel like life quite often has been too unfair or too dull. Similarly, John Wesley felt the same way one time. In 1738 he felt dull within and a little unmotivated and reluctantly responding to his pastoral duties at Aldersgate. He struggled to go for the meeting anyway. Someone read from Luther’s Preface to the Epistle to Romans 1:16-17. While Wesley was describing his experiences that evening, he says, ‘I felt my heart strangely warmed…’ ‘I felt I can trust Christ again with my life’ (paraphrased).
Do you feel like John Wesley? Let a new beginning start. You can trust Christ with your life again. Remember, even when winter comes spring is bound to come! To those who feel a great deal of regret that 2018 was a wasted year and missed big opportunities in their life, this is your portion of Scripture; Philippians 3:13-14. “Forgetting the things that are behind and reaching out for the things that are ahead, with this goal in mind, I strive toward the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus”. But Paul says that the only way to move forward is to put the past behind and focus on what is ahead. Perhaps to us, it means accepting God’s forgiveness and grace. I am not actually saying you overlook the lessons learned from the year; you can as well use them to build new bridges to the future. Take therefore advantage of the circumstance you are in to do something, it may be being a church steward this year or something else. Think about it and pray.
New diaries and calendars are now in our possession and new dates are already being booked. I do not know what dates are booked in your diaries to enhance your spiritual growth if that is part of your resolutions. Realistically you should know where you ought to invest most this year! In your diary may I request you to include one resolution: we all aim at increasing our current church membership by at least 10% by the end of Methodist year 2019. Is that possible anyway? God will give us the grace to do it, I believe. In our chain prayers, pray for one, ask the Lord to direct you to one person, once you have done it, take pastoral care of the person, see that the person receives the necessary discipleship training and mentored into Christ. You are now a soul winner! Daniel 12:3 ‘and they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever’.
At the end of the year we can have a recognition service to appreciate those who will have met their target. And perhaps request either our circuit superintendent minister or the District Chair to present a stick of cholate to them! We can ambitiously aim for such a day in our circuit. Our capable circuit leadership team (CLT) could perhaps give it a little thought on how best this dream could be achieved. I do believe that God is presenting to us this golden opportunity to participate in mission starting from where we are. Remember we have a calling as the people called the Methodists: to respond to the gospel of God’s love in Christ and live out its discipleship in worship and mission. We respond to this prayer; ‘Here I am Lord’.
In August 2018 I was set for a new Methodism ministerial experience in a multi-cultural setting. It was marked with a warm welcome in all aspects here in Northampton Circuit. My experiences so far are that I am where the Lord feels I should be serving. And as a family it has been a peaceful stay so far especially to our two daughters who have been able to adjust quickly in the school environment with very little challenges.
In the wisdom of God the British Methodist conference was able to match my gift here with Northampton circuit. So far I have enjoyed the brilliant Circuit Team Ministry model of sharing ministerial gifts and means of grace and at the same time embracing a working culture of accountability amongst ourselves. I am sure our congregations are equally reaping some of the benefits from experiences brought along by each one of us in the team.
Lastly, one of my responsibility is to oversee work in grouped churches (Kingsthorpe MC, St. Andrews MC & Towcester Road MC), as I work alongside my colleagues around the circuit. During my pastoral work in these churches I have noticed the same leaders are throughout on rota as church stewards every Sunday. What a commendable faithfulness in them! Should we sit and let them alone continue carrying these roles? No. they need us to step in and support them. To be able to do that, I am proposing in the spirit of John Wesley ‘priesthood of all believers’ a Methodism quadrilateral model drawn from a biblical thematic Motif on prayer event, ‘Here I am Lord’ (Isaiah 6). An event like this is likely to challenge our church membership to respond and begin to enlist in stewardship and programs that welcome of church visitors every Sunday. Please let us take time and pray about this and work together to see this prayer event translated into action.
Let me conclude this letter by appreciating everyone who has been involved and continue to get involved in supporting me perform my Pastoral responsibilities in the circuit. So far I have able to preach and provide Holy Communion to our 11 churches in our circuit and attend Pastoral and Council meetings in all the grouped churches and it has been a tremendous experience. I thank you all and I look forward to working with you in the years ahead.
In Deuteronomy 31:8 ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.”
I wish everyone a blessed Happy New year.